Themes and Ideas in The Scarlet Letter Movie

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The scarlet letter is an American romantic drama film. It is an adaptation of Nathaniel Howthorne’s book that was written in 1850. The movie was directed by Roland Joffe and stars Demi Moore as Hester Prynne, Gary Olman as Dimmesdale, and Roland Duvall as Roguer Chillingworth. There are many similarities and differences in the novel as in the film, and also themes like sin, love and revenge appear. One of the central themes is the sin with which Hester Prynne has to deal with contempt, and hatred of her community after giving birth to Pearl. From the point of view of the film and the novel there are certain differences.

First, in the novel Hester simply endures and accepts her punishment, this means that the author from the first moment describes and shows how people behaved in that century, how they were influenced by the church, how everyone followed the rules. A clear example is shown in chapter one when Hester leaves the prison “A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded'(the scarlet letter of 72 pages) and the townspeople are there to judge them for their sin. Comment by User: Are you quoting this line from the book? If so, remember to follow the pattern AUTHOR + PAGE NUMBER for in-text citations. Eg.: (Hawthorne 72)

While in the movie, Joffe gives the viewer more information about Hester's character, that is, he tells the story of how she arrives in the new Colony and, from the first act, the director shows Hester as a woman with her own thoughts. An example of that is when she decides to live alone and Mrs. Stenholm tells Hester: 'I hope she said she would stay in our house until her husband arrived.' And Hester responds to Mrs. Stenholm: 'I thank you but I intend to have my house as soon as possible' (film 7:01). This means that if a woman lived alone, she would go against the rules since it was a Puritan society. Also in the movie, sin is not terrible in Hester's opinion, since she thinks she did not commit any adultery because she had a daughter with the love of her life, in other words, she has thoughts of a current woman, since she insists that she did nothing wrong. Comment by User: Eva please check the notes I’ve recently sent you about citing dialogue from a movie. This form of in-text citation is not correct.

The same with the rose of the book, the reader has an idea of ​​how the narrator feels about sin. While the rose was beautiful, love and passion cannot be separated from the concept of sin. The movie does not show the rose, but it shows a red bird that symbolizes sin. A clear example is when the bird flies deep into the forest. The bird was also used again as an unmistakable symbol of sin when Hester and Dimmesdale were having their adventure in the barn.

One of the differences that can be observed about sin is the red rose tree mentioned in the first chapter 'This rose bush, by chance, has remained alive in the story '(the scarlet letter 73 pag); in the movie a red bird appears that symbolizes passion and sin. A clear example is when the bird flies into the forest and Hester follows it. The bird was also used again as an unmistakable symbol of sin when Hester and Arthur were having their adventure in the barn. Comment by User: Check Comment by User: This is repeated in the previous paragraph, please check.

Another difference is the visual effect of the letter 'A'. The cinematic version of the letter 'A' is simple, but the letter 'A' of the novel describes it as exuberant, embroidered in gold thread and this shows how this sin affected the Colony of 1642. Comment by User: Add in-text citation here since you are paraphrasing information from the book. (Hawthrone __)

One of the similarities observed about sin are that Hawthorne and Joffe put emphasis on the concept of original sin, with the symbolic use of the colour red. In the two stories this colour represents also passion and adultery.

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Love is another important theme in the two stories but it is seen as being told from two points of view: in the novel Howthorne treats the theme of love as something forbidden since in those times and in a Puritan society being in love with another man outside of marriage was considered the greatest of adultery and was publicly punished with the intention of causing shame and humiliation since for Puritans adultery was seen as a threat of social order and love was synonym of marriage. Comment by User: This sentence is too long, please divide it in two.

The novel shows how they suffer for love but unlike Hester, Arthur feels a lot of anguish throughout the novel and feels that he can no longer bear that burden that causes him to get sick and die. He in the novel is described as a weak man who did not know how to face his love for Hester. Comment by User: Again this is paraphrased from the book so you need to ad dan in-text citation at the end of it.

However, in the movie the love story between Hester and Arthur shows that love is stronger than religion and any rule. The clearest example is when Hester in the movie says: 'In god eyes, he is my husband' (film). The director wanted to show the audience that from the first moment they both met there was a connection that could not be broken. A good example of his love is when, in the movie, Arthur tells her: 'Hester I am not the man you believe, I have always lived here and I always knew what I wanted but now I would risk my life, my soul for being with you '(film).and at that moment she also declares her love saying: “I do not think I was alive Before Meeting You '(film 39:32). With this scene the director wanted to show Hester as a woman of free spirit who makes her own decisions and she is willing to wait and fight for her love. Comment by User: Revise

Unlike the novel with respect to love it looks like the two stories have different endings since in the novel they can't be together, in the movie the story ends with a happy ending since they accept their love and go to live to New England.

Revenge is another theme that is clearly seen in both the novel and the movie. It is remarkable how in the two stories revenge takes a leading role, since the main author of this topic is Hester's husband. The similarities between the author and the director are that in both stories Chillinworth became increasingly evil and he I was determined to take revenge. In the movie he felt a lot of hate but he was still in love with Hester since in the movie he says to Hester: 'I don't take revenge on you creature but the man who has harmed us is still alive' (film 1:23:18) in This scene the director wanted to show how he still hoped to return with his wife.

In both versions, Hester's husband was determined to destroy with Arthur's peace since he was to blame that his wife had the letter A. This means that Chillingworth in both stories is presented as an example of perseverance, although the object of his inquiries is revenge.

To summarize it is advisable to watch the movie and of course know Howthore's work since it shows us what life was like in a Puritan society shows us the idea that the love and responsibility of a married couple that were equal to a moral duty and This teaches us to know a little more about the history of how in a Puritan society, adultery was considered the most serious of sins but at the same time it shows us how generations began to change since in the movie the two characters stay together .

Works Cited

  1. “La Letra Escarlata” YouTube uploaded by ANTORCHA CAMPESINA MIXTECA BAJA, 13 jun. 2016,
  2. Nathaniel Hawthorne “The Scarlet Letter”
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Themes and Ideas in The Scarlet Letter Movie. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
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